Mental Health Awareness Week – Deaf Identity
Today I will talk about the importance of Deaf identity and how it is linked to our body image. What does that mean? Well having a good deaf identity can mean having good mental health, conversely a poor deaf identity will impact our mental health. Why do we say that? As a deaf person, who was either born deaf or became deaf, you realised at some point you were different, you noticed the barriers that you faced on a daily basis, this could have been due to communication, whether you are a BSL user or a lip reader you missed out on vital information, growing up you may have felt left out of the family, or even it affected your education, this may have presented problems at work, college or you may have wondered about the possible barriers you may face in the future, maybe no one in society is is helping you, or you’ve even suffered abuse, all of this may have given you a negative view of being deaf. Perhaps you feel that all this happening because I am deaf. But remember it’s not your fault, it’s their fault! Did you have a choice in being deaf? No. You can’t become hearing. But those around you can change, they can provide you better access, such as communication. Remember it’s those around you that create these barriers that make your life difficult, , not the other way around. It’s important to realise that it’s these attitudes that make you feel that deaf people aren’t good enough, that make you feel embarrassed about being deaf that make you wish you were hearing, it’s these attitudes that affect our mental health, but the problem is them, not you! It’s worth taking time to think about what affects you and stops you feeling proud to be deaf. But also think of situations that have made you feel proud to be deaf; if you can’t think of any why not speak to your family, friends or work colleagues and ask them and you’ll probably find there are many good examples they can share. If we think positively about ourselves and our deaf identity our mental health will flourish. It’s worth thinking about your deaf identity.